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Humanities Institute



Grants, Fellowships & CFPs


Horizons of the Humanities Exploratory Workshop: Civil War

Deadline: Friday, April 28th, 2017

Sponsored by: University of California Humanities Research Institute

Only Graduate Students, Recent PhDs, and Faculty are eligible for this grant, fellowship, or residency.

Grant Overview

Description: UCHRI invites University of California faculty, graduate students, and recent PhDs to submit letters of interest to attend a June 2, 2017 workshop on the topic of civil war. The aim of the workshop is to explore innovative agendas, partnerships, and methodologies that advance multidisciplinary, multimodal examination of the topic, in historical and contemporary frames, across disciplines, as actualized and culturally represented and reflected on. The purpose of the event is to form a collaborative research group in academic year 2017-18.

Who Can Apply: UC and non-UC faculty, graduate students, recent PhDs, independent scholars, artists, and media professionals

Award Amount: Travel, lodging, and meals to attend the event, with potential research funds awarded to pursue additional, collaborative research.

Application Opens: March 28, 2017 (online via FastApps)

Application Deadline: April 28, 2017 (11:59 pm PST)

Awards Announced: Early May, 2017 (expected)

Funding Source: The Horizons of the Humanities initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation

Final awards are contingent upon available funding.

View Frequently Asked Questions

Program Details

On June 2, 2017 at UC Irvine, UCHRI will host an exploratory workshop on the topic of civil war to facilitate face-to-face networking and proposal development among groups of scholars. The exploratory workshop will convene up to 15-20 competitively-selected UC faculty and graduate students, journalists, and other public scholars for one day of networking, sharing research interests, and building an interdisciplinary research team.

The purpose of the exploratory workshop is to identify opportunities for research collaborations and partnerships beyond those typically found within traditional academic structures. To that end, we encourage applications from humanities and non-humanities faculty and graduate students working on the topic, as well as public scholars throughout California.

The research collaborative that emerges from this initial exploratory engagement will be invited to apply for longer-term research funding as part of UCHRI’s Horizons of the Humanities initiative. When establishing research affinities, we encourage participants to think broadly about the research topic and to consider interdisciplinary, multimodal scholarship and methods.

Topic Details

States descend into civil wars when contrasting conceptions of life within them are deemed irreconcilable and living for a considerable proportion of inhabitants is made otherwise unbearable. Those at least nominally controlling the state apparatus insist on obedience and deference to its way of being, on pain of erasure for refusal or resistance. Civil wars, then, are struggles over competing ways of being in the world, their underlying conceptions, and control of the state to materialize and advance these commitments.

J.M. Coetzee’s observation about late apartheid South Africa applies generally to the topic of civil war:

South Africa is not formally in a state of war, but it might as well be. As resistance has grown, the rule of law step by step has been suspended. The police and the people who run the police (as hunters run packs of dogs) are by now more or less unconstrained. In the guise of news, radio and television relay the official lies. Yet over the whole sorry, murderous show there hangs an air of staleness. The old rallying cries–Uphold white Christian civilization! Honor the sacrifices of the forefathers–lack all force. We, or they, or we and they both have moved into the endgame, and everyone knows it.

Yet while the chess players manoeuvre for advantage, human lives are still being consumed–consumed and shat out. As it is the fate of some generations to be destroyed by war, so it seems the fate of the present one to be ground down by politics.

–J.M. Coetzee, Summertime, p. 12

Violence is endemic to civil wars, as much hermeneutically as physically. Violence inheres both in the undertaking to insist on the given at the expense of the insurgent and in the drive to break with the established and imposed. Civil wars, at the outset and in the end, are not foremost about resorting to arms, even as they may quickly gear up to blows. For the struggle to be considered blow-worthy the contrast must be palpable and pressing, and include appeals at least to:

  • authority and to accountability
  • make-believe and to evidence
  • command and to constitutionality
  • contempt and to dignity
  • violence/violation and to response-ability
  • a fantasized past and to a co-composed future

So the struggle, in short, comes down to that between manipulative control, at all cost, and to co-constitutive, interactive engagement. Civil struggles that blow up into full-fledged wars, whether conceptually or materially, require of people, those of the society but also distant observers, to declare one’s commitments, to take sides. Neutrality in the face of impending death and destruction in the final analysis is itself side-taking. In the end, civil wars are conflicts over the contours and coloring, the quality and character of the civil and social life, and the levers of state as their embodiment.

How do such struggles emerge, enlarge, and manifest in civil wars? What are their prompts, pulses, and products at different times and in different states? What are their expressions and ends? What is “civil” about civil war, and what is not? How might they be anticipated, avoided, justly resolved short of violence, rupture, inevitable dislocation? And, once erupting into conflagration or resolved one way or another, how to forego the cycles of violence that inevitably are fueled by the assertive, dogmatic, persistent digging in by one or both sides in the name of an absolutized Truth and the reach for state power?

We are interested in these questions in their historical manifestations, their contemporary articulations, and their future prognoses.

Application Details

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact their respective campus representative on the UCHRI Advisory Committee for guidance in the process.

Applicants must apply online via UCHRI’s FastApps system. Required documents include:

  • Curriculum Vitae/Resume of the participant
    Letter of Intent (800 words max) outlining your interest in the topic of civil war (broadly defined) and how a collaborative engagement would contribute to your continued research aims.

Successful applications should clearly demonstrate how the theme and would be suitable to research collaboration and excellence.

For program-related questions, please contact Suedine Nakano, Program Officer at snakano@hri.uci.edu.

For technical assistance with FastApps, contact techsupport@hri.uci.edu.

Please include the name of the program for which you need assistance.

For more information please contact: Suedine Nakano, Program Officer at snakano@hri.uci.edu

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